Minister of Social Services and Community Development Melanie S. Griffin on Saturday stressed the importance of a country being able to cater to the needs of its citizens, especially the old and the young.
“The old must be taken care of because they have served their country and deserve to be rewarded,” she said during her address at a gala banquet in Grand Bahama organized by the Department of Social Services and The Bahamas Association of Social Workers, Northern Chapter.
“The young must be taken care of because they are the future of the society. The sick must be taken care of until they get well and can once again become productive members of society, the unemployed need assistance to be able to continue feeding their families until they can find work.
“It is the responsibility of any government to ensure that social assistance programmes are in place to address the changing needs of society and that there are competent and caring professionals to administer these services,” she stated.
Also, she advised that Grand Bahama is moving ahead with the Social Safety Net Reform Programme, which is expected to begin in the next few months.
“This reform is intended to modernize the entire social assistance delivery machinery and will include what is known as a Conditional Cash Transfer. The Conditional Cash Transfer is used in many countries throughout the world.
“As a first phase of the reform process, we are changing the process for the delivery of food assistance and in New Providence already 2,642 beneficiaries receive their assistance by way of a reloadable prepaid card.
“The introduction of the card has made life easier for both beneficiaries and staff. As of yesterday the prepaid card has been launched at three of the four centers in New Providence and work has begun to for the implementation of the card at the final one by the end of May,” she said.
The Minister also advised that recently, a team from New Providence came to Grand Bahama to commence the ground work for the introduction of the prepaid card there and they are making preparations for the introduction of the card throughout The Bahamas.
She pointed out that these and other programmes would not be possible without our social workers, the allied support staff and non-governmental organizations.
“Again, I commend all serving officers and our honorees for all of their hard work over the years. I also thank the volunteers and non-governmental organizations that have worked closely with the Department of Social Services in helping to meet our mandate to the Bahamian people.
“The preparation for the prepaid card is very extensive. Every client on the food assistance programme must be reassessed. It will mean working long hours during the day, in the evening, on weekends and sometimes on holidays,” she said